“Reforming” Government a Toxic Fantasy

I’m against the idea of fighting “waste, fraud and abuse” in the federal government. Why? Because doing so empowers the lie that most of what the government does to its citizens is legitimate and reasonable.

“Of course government should be providing health care. Of course government should be putting people in jail for smoking marijuana. Of course government should be the lender of first and last resort, the primary maker of automobiles, and the final authority in how much fuel people should use. Of course government should fight wars wherever it pleases, without being responsible for even stating what the goal of the war is and demonstrating objective results. It just needs to do these things more efficiently.”

The fact is: Most of what government does is completely unjustified. Its functions are specified nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. A great deal of what even the American government does is initiate force against its own citizens, people who were otherwise and previously not coercing anybody to do anything.

Originally, this started out as an attempt by government to “take care of” its people. This is why Social Security and Medicare passed. As these programs became fiscally unsustainable and created a whole host of problems, such as impairing the quality of medical care delivery even as the quality of medical technology steadily grew, government had to become more heavy-handed. “Well, if government is going to pay for everyone’s medical care, then government has a right to — [insert tyranny here].”

When politicians start talking about, “We’re going to cut waste, fraud and abuse in government programs,” I don’t immediately think: “Yeah, right. If only.” Instead, what I think is: “Why do we have these government programs in the first place?” To talk about making government more efficient is a toxic fantasy. It concedes the false idea that government both can and should provide happiness and economic comfort for all. In essence, those who promote a more efficient and less wasteful government are promoting socialism. They might not realize it, and this might not be their intention, but this is what they’re doing.

Democrats are the established socialists in the United States. It’s Republicans who are supposedly the party of limited government, capitalism and individual rights. But Republicans don’t try to get rid of socialist programs. They don’t even argue against them. They don’t say, for example, “Social Security and Medicare were big mistakes. They’re unsustainable over the long-run, and are even in danger in the short-term because of the massive national debt run up over the last few years. The youngest people will have to provide for their own retirement and health care. These programs will be gone by the time they’re 65. Our job is to reestablish a private economy so these young people won’t need the government to take care of them when they’re older. We need capitalism, not socialism.” I’d be surprised if there are a handful of Republicans in office, or even one, who agrees with anything close to this. I frankly question whether the new Tea Party legislators agree with this. (We’ll soon see.)

You might reply, “Well, those views are unrealistic and too extreme.” I recognize it could take time to implement them. But if Republicans aren’t the party of limited government and capitalism, then what are they? What do we need them for, if not to reverse course on everything wrong Democrats have done — not just in the last two years, but in the last 75 years?

Socialism cannot work. It cannot deliver the goods. It cannot provide one penny’s worth of value other than by taking from the private sector. In a democratic republic, the private sector only gives away its wealth with majority consent. There’s nothing to fear about socialism other than socialism itself. As an economic system, it’s a catastrophe — in America no less than anywhere else, as we’ll increasingly see. But if we actually had a second political party who argued against socialism, and undercut or reversed socialist programs every chance it got, then the country would still have a fighting chance.

“Waste, fraud and abuse” have been with us since the beginning of Big Government. They are part of the nature of Big Government wealth redistribution programs. When government seizes wealth from peaceful citizens to use for purposes it considers more worthy, it’s engaging in legalized plunder i.e. legalized theft, plain and simple. You can’t and you shouldn’t expect efficiency from a criminal. The fact that the criminal operates under the legal sanction of government doesn’t change the nature of what it’s doing. If you love Big Government, then all I can say is “Good luck” as the budget deficit continues to explode and the government proceeds to inflate the money supply, thereby making everything in society of less value. If you oppose Big Government on principle, as I do, then stop supporting efforts to “reform” the unreformable. That strategy failed because by its nature it’s contradictory and therefore cannot work. It’s time to get rid of the problem, not reform it.